John Forsythe

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John Forsythe
Forsythe in 1957
John or Jacob Lincoln Freund

(1918-01-29)January 29, 1918
DiedApril 1, 2010(2010-04-01) (aged 92)
Resting placeOak Hill Cemetery, Ballard, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Actor
  • producer
  • narrator
  • drama teacher
  • philanthropist
Years active1943–2006
Parker Worthington McCormick
(m. 1939; div. 1943)
Julie (Wagner) Warren
(m. 1943; died 1994)
Nicole Carter
(m. 2002)
AwardsGolden Globe Award (1983, 1984); Golden Apple Award (1984); Soap Opera Digest Award (1984); TV Land Award (2007); Walk of Fame (Television, 1960)

John Forsythe (January 29, 1918 – April 1, 2010) was an American stage, film/television actor, producer, narrator, drama teacher and philanthropist whose career spanned six decades.[1] He also appeared as a guest on several talk and variety shows and as a panelist on numerous game shows.

His acting career began in films in 1943. He signed up with Warner Bros. at age 25 as a minor contract player, but he starred in The Captive City (1952) and co-starred opposite Loretta Young in It Happens Every Thursday (1953), Edmund Gwenn and Shirley MacLaine in The Trouble with Harry (1955), and Olivia de Havilland in The Ambassador's Daughter (1956).

He also enjoyed a long successful television career, starring in three television series in three genres: as the single playboy father Bentley Gregg in the sitcom Bachelor Father (1957–1962); as the unseen millionaire Charles Townsend in the crime drama Charlie's Angels (1976–1981)—a role he reprised in the 2000 and 2003 film adaptations; and as patriarch Blake Carrington in Dynasty (1981–1989). He hosted the series World of Survival (1971–1977),[1] and was the presenter of the 38th Miss Universe Pageant, broadcast on CBS in 1989.

Early life[edit]

The eldest of three children, Forsythe was born John (or Jacob) Lincoln Freund,[2][1][3][4] on January 29, 1918, in Penns Grove, New Jersey, the son of Blanche Forsythe (née Blohm) and Samuel Jeremiah Freund, a stockbroker. Blanche was born in Georgia to David Hyat Blohm, a Russian Jewish immigrant, and Mary S. Materson, who was born in Maryland to Jewish emigrants from Prussia. Forysthe's father was born in New York to Polish Jewish immigrants. Forsythe was raised in the Jewish faith.[4]

He was raised in Brooklyn, New York, where his father worked as a Wall Street businessman during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn at the age of 16, and began attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[5] In 1936, at the age of 18, he took a job as the public address announcer for Brooklyn Dodgers games at Ebbets Field, confirming a childhood love of baseball.[1] He was a lifelong active Democrat.[6]

Movie career and Army service[edit]

The handprints of John Forsythe in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.

Despite showing initial reluctance, Forsythe began an acting career at the suggestion of his father. He met actress Parker Worthington McCormick (December 29, 1918 – July 22, 1980), and the couple married in 1939; they had a son, Dall (born February 14, 1941), and divorced in 1943. As a bit player for Warner Brothers, Forsythe successfully appeared in several small parts.[7]

As a result, he was given a small role in Destination Tokyo (1943). Leaving his movie career for service in the United States Army Air Forces in World War II, he appeared in the USAAF-produced play Winged Victory, then worked with injured soldiers who had developed speech problems.[7]

Also in 1943, Forsythe met Julie Warren, initially a theatre companion, but later a successful actress in her own right, landing a role on Broadway in Around the World. She became Forsythe's second wife, and in the early 1950s they had two daughters.[8]

In 1947, Forsythe joined the initial class of the Actors Studio, where he met Marlon Brando and Julie Harris, among others. During this time he appeared on Broadway in Mister Roberts and The Teahouse of the August Moon. In 1955, Alfred Hitchcock cast him in the movie The Trouble with Harry, with Shirley MacLaine in her first movie appearance, for which she won a Golden Globe. In 1969, Forsythe appeared in another Hitchcock film, Topaz.[9]

Television work[edit]

With Noreen Corcoran in Bachelor Father (1957–1962)

Throughout the 1950s, Forsythe successfully appeared in the new medium and worked regularly on all the networks, especially as a guest star. He appeared in the "Premonition" episode of the popular anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents, opposite Cloris Leachman.

Forsythe was cast in a 1957 episode, "Decision at Wilson's Creek", on the CBS anthology series Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre. He played Confederate Lieutenant David Marr who suddenly resigns to return to his wife, only to find that he is scorned by townspeople.[7]

Outdoor location sequences for the episode were shot on the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, California, where a number of scenes took place in a group of oak trees that later came to be known as the Midway Oaks. One of those oak trees, a distinctive multi-trunked tree with a characteristic lean, became known as the Forsythe Oak, commemorating John Forsythe's appearance at the fabled movie ranch, considered the most widely filmed outdoor location in movie and television history. The Forsythe Oak remains in place today; it is located on a private estate on the former Upper Iverson.[citation needed]

Bachelor Father[edit]

In 1957, he took a leading role in the situation comedy Bachelor Father for CBS as Bentley Gregg, a playboy lawyer who has to become a father to his niece Kelly (played by Noreen Corcoran), upon the death of her biological parents. The show was an immediate ratings hit and moved to NBC the following season and to ABC in the fall of 1961. On various episodes Forsythe worked with such up-and-coming actresses as Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara Eden, Donna Douglas, Sally Kellerman, Sue Ane Langdon, and a teenage Linda Evans. During the 1961–1962 season, Bachelor Father was cancelled because of declining ratings.[citation needed]

After Bachelor Father[edit]

During the 1960s, Forsythe returned to acting in movies including Kitten with a Whip (1964), Madame X (1966) and In Cold Blood (1967). In 1964 he starred in See How They Run which is notable for being the first film made for television.

He attempted two new television programs: The John Forsythe Show on NBC with Guy Marks, Elsa Lanchester, Ann B. Davis, Peggy Lipton, and Forsythe's two young daughters, Page and Brooke (1965–1966), and To Rome with Love on CBS (1969–1971) with co-star Walter Brennan.[10] Between 1971 and 1977, Forsythe served as narrator on the syndicated nature series, World of Survival. He was also the announcer for Michelob beer commercials during the 1970s and 1980s, notably during the "Weekends were made for Michelob" era.

Charlie's Angels[edit]

Forsythe began a 13-year association with Aaron Spelling in 1976, cast in the role of mysterious unseen millionaire private investigator Charles Townsend in the crime drama Charlie's Angels (1976–1981). The show starred Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Farrah Fawcett, making stars of all three but catapulting Fawcett to iconic status. Forsythe introduces the series' concept during its opening credits:

Once upon a time, three little girls went to the police academy, where they were each assigned very hazardous duties. But I took them away from all that, and now they work for me. My name is Charlie.

Forsythe became the highest-paid actor on television on a per-hour basis: while the show's on-camera stars often worked 15-hour days five days a week, with a couple of hours just for hair and makeup, Forsythe's lines for an entire episode would be recorded in a sound studio in a matter of minutes, after which he would have lunch in the network's commissary and then leave for the track. During this period, Forsythe invested much money in Thoroughbred racing, a personal hobby. Gaining respect with the celebrity Thoroughbred circuit, he served on the board of directors at the Hollywood Park Racetrack starting in 1972, and was on the committee for more than 25 years.[10]

Following heart problems, Forsythe underwent quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery in 1979. This was so successful that he not only returned to work on Charlie's Angels, he also appeared in the two-time Academy Award-nominated motion picture ...And Justice for All later that year as Judge Henry T. Fleming, the film's main antagonist, a corrupt judge who despises Al Pacino's lawyer character.[citation needed]


In 1981, nearing the end of Charlie's Angels, Forsythe was selected as a last-minute replacement for George Peppard in the role of the dedicated and resilient patriarch Blake Carrington in Dynasty.[11] Another Spelling production, Dynasty was ABC's answer to the highly successful CBS series Dallas. Between 1985 and 1986, Forsythe also appeared as Blake Carrington in the short-lived spinoff series The Colbys.

The series reunited Forsythe with one-time Bachelor Father guest star Linda Evans, who would play Blake's wife, Krystle. During the run of the series, Forsythe, Evans and co-star Joan Collins, who played Blake's ex-wife Alexis, promoted the Dynasty line of fragrances. Dynasty came to an end in 1989, after nine seasons. Forsythe was the only actor to appear in all 220 episodes.[12]

Forsythe was nominated for Emmy Awards three times between 1982 and 1984 for "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" but did not win. He was also nominated six times for Golden Globe Awards, winning twice. He was nominated five times for the Soap Opera Digest Awards, also winning twice.[9] In 1983, Forsythe was presented with the American Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award at a ceremony in Coronado, California.[13][14]

The Powers That Be[edit]

In 1992, after a three-year absence, Forsythe returned to series television starring in Norman Lear's situation comedy The Powers That Be for NBC, co-starring Holland Taylor, Peter MacNicol, Valerie Mahaffey and David Hyde Pierce.[7]

Post-1990s work and life[edit]

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Forsythe's wife of 51 years, Julie Warren (October 20, 1919 – August 15, 1994), died at age 74 from cancer in hospital after Forsythe made the decision to disconnect her life-support system. She had been in a coma following severe breathing difficulties.[15][16]

In July 2002, Forsythe married businesswoman Nicole Carter (May 27, 1941 – May 11, 2010) at Ballard Country Church; they remained married until his death. Nicole Carter Forsythe died five weeks after her husband.[17]

Forsythe reprised his role as the voice of Charlie for the film version of Charlie's Angels (2000) and its sequel Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003); he then retired from acting.

Besides spending time with his family, he enjoyed ownership of an art gallery. In 2005 actor Bartholomew John portrayed Forsythe in Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure, a fictionalized television movie based on the creation and behind the scenes production of Dynasty.[18]

On May 2, 2006, Forsythe appeared with Dynasty co-stars Linda Evans, Joan Collins, Pamela Sue Martin, Al Corley, Gordon Thomson and Catherine Oxenberg in Dynasty Reunion: Catfights & Caviar. The one-hour reunion special of the former ABC series aired on CBS. Forsythe appeared each year to read to children during the annual Christmas program near his home at the rural resort community of Solvang, California.[19]

Forsythe was treated for colorectal cancer in the fall of 2006.[20] Surgery was reportedly successful and his cancer was considered to be in remission at the time of his death.[21]


Forsythe died on April 1, 2010, from pneumonia in Santa Ynez, California, at the age of 92.[1][7][10] He was interred at Oak Hill Cemetery, Ballard, Santa Barbara County, California.

Thoroughbred racing[edit]

Forsythe owned and bred Thoroughbred racehorses for many years and was a member of the board of directors of Hollywood Park Racetrack. Among his successes, in partnership with film producer Martin Ritt he won the 1976 Longacres Mile with Yu Wipi.[22]

With partner Ken Opstein, he won the 1982 Sixty Sails Handicap with Targa, and the 1993 La Brea Stakes with a daughter of Targa, Mamselle Bebette, which he raced under the name of his Big Train Farm, a stable he named for Hall of Fame baseball pitcher, Walter Johnson.[23]

In the 1980s, Forsythe served as the regular host for the annual Eclipse Awards. He was the recipient of the 1988 Eclipse Award of Merit for his contribution in promoting the sport of Thoroughbred racing.[24]



Year Title Role Notes
1943 Northern Pursuit Corporal Uncredited
Destination Tokyo Sparks
1949 Arson, Inc. Race Track Announcer Voice; uncredited
1952 The Captive City Jim Austin
1953 It Happens Every Thursday Bob MacAvoy
The Glass Web Don Newell
Escape from Fort Bravo Capt. John Marsh
1955 The Trouble with Harry Sam Marlowe
1956 The Ambassador's Daughter Sgt. Danny Sullivan
Everything but the Truth Ernie Miller
1959 Dubrowsky Wladia
1964 Kitten with a Whip David
1966 Madame X Clay Anderson
1967 In Cold Blood Alvin Dewey
1969 Marooned Olympus / President Uncredited
Topaz Michael Nordstrom
The Happy Ending Fred Wilson
1978 Goodbye & Amen The American Ambassador
1979 ...And Justice for All. Judge Henry T. Fleming
1988 Scrooged Lew Hayward
1992 Stan and George's New Life Father
1999 We Wish You a Merry Christmas Mr. Ryan Voice; Direct to video
2000 Charlie's Angels Charles "Charlie" Townsend Voice
2003 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle


Year Title Role Notes
1948 Stage Door Keith Burgess TV movie
Kraft Television Theatre 2 episodes
Actors Studio Episode: "The Widow of Wasdale Head"
1949 NBC Presents Episode: "Just for Tonight"
1949–1955 Studio One in Hollywood Various 10 episodes
1951 The Ford Theatre Hour Peter Flint Episode: "The Golden Mouth"
Robert Montgomery Presents Dr. Frederick Steele Episode: "Dark Victory"
Starlight Theatre 2 episodes
Cosmopolitan Theatre Episode: "Time to Kill"
1951–1952 Lights Out Various 3 episodes
Suspense Various 5 episodes
Danger 2 episodes
1951–1958 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Various 5 episodes
1952 Pulitzer Prize Playhouse 2 episodes
Curtain Call Episode: "The Season of Divorce"
The Philco Television Playhouse 2 episodes
1954 The United States Steel Hour Prof. Gilbert Jardine Episode: "King's Pawn"
1955 The Elgin Hour George Conway Episode: "Driftwood"
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Kim Stanger Season 1 Episode 2: "Premonition"
1955–1958 Climax! Various 5 episodes
1956 Playwrights '56 Joe Neville Episode: "Return to Cassino"
Star Stage Episode: "A Place to be Alone"
Goodyear Television Playhouse Lt. John Stahlman Episode: "Stardust II"
1957 Zane Grey Theatre CSA Lt. David Marr Episode: "Decision at Wilson Creek"
General Electric Theater Bentley Gregg Episode: "New Girl in His Life"
1957–1962 Bachelor Father 157 episodes
1958 The Major and the Minor TV movie
1959 Lux Playhouse Colonel Bill Adams Episode: "The Miss and Missiles"
Sunday Showcase Al Manheim 2 episodes
1962 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Michael Barnes 'Episode: "I Saw The Whole Thing"
1963 Alcoa Premiere Andy Ballard Episode: "Five, Six, Pick Up Sticks"
The Dick Powell Show Peter Kent Episode: "The Third Side of a Coin"
Kraft Mystery Theater Episode: "Go Look at the Roses"
1964 See How They Run Martin Young TV movie
Kraft Suspense Theatre 2 episodes
1965 Theatre of Stars Charlie King Episode: "In Any Language"
1965–1966 The John Forsythe Show Major John Foster 29 episodes
1966 Insight Ray 2 episodes
1967 Run for Your Life Spencer Holt Episode: "A Choice of Evils"
The Red Skelton Show Millionaire's Son Episode: "A New York Stripper Is Not Always a Steak"
A Bell for Adano Maj. Victor Joppola TV movie
1968 Shadow on the Land Gen. Wendell Bruce
1969–1971 To Rome with Love Michael Endicott 48 episodes
1971 Murder Once Removed Dr. Ron Wellesley TV movie
1973 The Letters Paul Anderson Unsold pilot
Lisa, Bright and Dark William Schilling TV movie
1974 Cry Panic David Ryder
Police Story Sam McCullough Episode: "Chief"
The Healers Dr. Robert Kier TV movie
Terror on the 40th Floor Daniel 'Dan' Overland
1975 The Deadly Tower Lt. Elwood Forbes
Medical Story Amos Winkler Episode: "Million Dollar Baby"
1976 Amelia Earhart G.P. Putnam Miniseries
1976–1981 Charlie's Angels Charles "Charlie" Townsend (voice) 109 episodes; uncredited
1977 Tail Gunner Joe Paul Cunningham TV movie
Emily, Emily Niles Putnam
The Feather and Father Gang E.J. Valerian Episode: "Never Con a Killer" (Pilot)
1978 Cruise Into Terror Reverend Charles Mather TV movie
With This Ring General Albert Harris
The Users Reade Jamieson
1980 A Time for Miracles Postulator
1981 Sizzle Mike Callahan
1981–1989 Dynasty Blake Carrington Main role
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Television Series Drama
Soap Opera Digest Award - Outstanding Actor in a Mature Role in a Prime Time Soap Opera; Outstanding Actor in a Prime Time Soap Opera>
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Television Series Drama
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1982–1984)
Nominated — Soap Opera Digest Award: Favorite Super Couple on a Prime Time Serial (with Linda Evans); Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role on a Prime Time Serial
Nominated — Soap Opera Digest Award: Favorite Super Couple: Prime Time (with Linda Evans)
1982 Mysterious Two He TV movie
1983 The Love Boat Burt Gardner 2 episodes
1985–1986 The Colbys Blake Carrington 4 episodes
1987 On Fire Joe Leary Sr. TV movie
1989 Champions in Kentucky: The Story of the 1988 Breeders' Cup Narrator
1990 Opposites Attract Rex Roper
1991 Spirit of a Champion: The Story of the 1990 Breeders' Cup Narrator
Dynasty: The Reunion Blake Carrington Miniserieses
1992–1993 The Powers That Be Sen. William Franklin Powers 21 episodes
1993–1994 I Witness Video Host
1996 Adventures from the Book of Virtues Dadelaus (voice) Episode: "Responsibility"
The Goliath Chronicles Pat Doyle (voice) Episode: "Ransom"
2006 Dynasty Reunion: Catfights & Caviar Himself / Blake Carrington Documentary


Year Title Role Notes
2003 Charlie's Angels: Animated Adventures Charles "Charlie" Townsend (voice) Episode: "Chapter One: Most Delicious Angels"; uncredited[25]

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1953 Best Plays The Farmer Takes a Wife[26]


  1. ^ a b c d e Bernstein, Adam (April 3, 2010). "John Forsythe dead; starred in 'Dynasty,' 'Bachelor Father'". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  2. ^ as his first name sources differ
  3. ^ Clarke, Joseph F. (1977). Pseudonyms. Hamish Hamilton. p. 65. ISBN 978-0525665670.
  4. ^ a b "John Forsythe Biography (1918–)". Film Reference. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  5. ^ Staff. "Biography for John Forsythe", Turner Classic Movies; retrieved September 23, 2009. "Attending Brooklyn's Abraham Lincoln High School, he came of age, like countless Brooklyn youngsters, a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers and devoted his extracurricular activities to sports."
  6. ^ Mathews, Jay (May 28, 1983). "Democrats Hope to Get $6 Million in Telethon". The Washington Post.
  7. ^ a b c d e Gates, Anita (April 2, 2010). "John Forsythe, 'Dynasty' Actor, Is Dead at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  8. ^ Robert R. Morman, Adieus to Achievers (2010), p. 100
  9. ^ a b "John Forsythe". The Daily Telegraph. London. April 4, 2010. Archived from the original on January 12, 2022. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Luther, Claudia (April 3, 2010). "John Forsythe dies at 92; actor known for roles on TV series 'Bachelor Father', 'Charlie's Angels', and 'Dynasty'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 16, 2011. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  11. ^ Oliver, Myrna (May 10, 1994). "George Peppard, Versatile Actor, Dies at 65". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  12. ^ "And so comes the end of a Dynasty. . ". independent. April 10, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  13. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  14. ^ "American Academy of Achievement fills Coronado with famous names" (PDF). Coronado Journal.
  15. ^ Bergan, Ronald (April 4, 2010). "John Forsythe obituary". The Guardian. Manchester. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  16. ^ "RootsWeb: Database Index". Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  17. ^ "Nicole Carter Forsythe". Los Angeles Times. May 23, 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  18. ^ "Dynasty: Behind the Scenes: Credits" (in German). Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  19. ^ Rice, Lynette (May 1, 2006). "Linda Evans reminisces about her Dynasty days". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  20. ^ "Dynasty star treated for cancer". BBC News. October 13, 2006.
  21. ^ Obituaries,; retrieved June 5, 2014. Archived August 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Yupi Wipi Wins Longacres Mile". Salem Statesman Journal. August 23, 1976. p. 15.
  23. ^ Jones, Grahame L. (December 31, 2005). "This Horse Was Fair Game for the 'King'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 3, 2010.
  24. ^ Paulick, Ray (January 26, 2009). "Eclipse memories". ESPN. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  25. ^ Baisley, Sarah (May 12, 2003). "Charlie's Angels See Animated Action On The Web". Animation World Network. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  26. ^ Kirby, Walter (June 28, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved July 1, 2015 – via Open access icon

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by Miss Universe Host
Succeeded by